With NC State beating Miami 7-1 earlier in the day, the UNC-NCSU game on Saturday night was already set to be for a berth in the ACC Championship game versus Virginia Tech. Whatever happened when North Carolina took the field against Clemson was inconsequential. If UNC lost to Clemson but beat NC State the Heels would advance to the title game either by owning the head-to-head with the Wolfpack or surviving the three way tiebreaker. If NC State wins on Saturday night, they are 3-0 in the pool and win it outright.
So with that as the backdrop to Friday's game, UNC and Clemson play the kind of game everyone loves to see when there is nothing at stake. They contest a five plus hours 14 inning affair that saw the Tar Heels score five runs twice to rally from down 7-2 to win 12-7. Benton Moss started the game but lasted only 5.1 innings giving up five runs as Clemson took a 5-2 lead in the sixth. It got worse in the 8th with Clemson scoring two runs on a pair of errors by Cody Stubbs.
In the top of the 9th, the Tar Heels loaded the bases and added two runs on a single and sacrifice fly to draw within three with two on and two down. Brian Holberton then deposited a 3-1 pitch into the right field bleachers to tie the game at 7-7. From there it was nip and tuck with both teams threatening over the course of the next four innings. During that span the Heels relied on Reilly Hovis who held Clemson scoreless despite giving up two hits and five walks.
In the top of the 14th, the wheels finally came off for the Tigers with UNC scoring five to put the game out of reach. Mason McCullough came in to close the game out giving the Heels their 50th win of the season.
Saturday's game versus NC State will be for the right to face Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship. The Wolfpack held ace pitcher Carlos Radon back for this game and he will face Hobbs Johnson whom NC State has not see yet this season. Also of note is how little Mike Fox used crucial bullpen arms against Clemson. Chris McCue pitched just one inning and closer Trent Thornton never even warmed up. With a well rested Thornton, should Johnson be limited to 5-6 innings, the freshman closer might be in for a long stint should the Heels need him.
Last season over 10,000 saw these two teams play on a Saturday night in Greensboro. The game is already sold out with the expectation being the attendance will exceed the crowd from last year.